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2009 Rice harvest is finally coming to a close

1st December 2009

Rice MudThe 2009 rice harvest is finally coming to a close, most years harvest starts in August and has tailed off by mid October, this year there will still be rice being cut at Thanksgiving.

Early spring rains kept the majority of the delta too wet to get much planting underway, what planting was accomplished was a stop, start affair so most Rice acres were planted late.  It was also abnormally cool through the growing season so it was not a typical season for many.

As the start of harvest grew closer it started to rain and the temperatures remained cool so many of the crops could not mature and the fields stayed wet and muddy. The benefits of the stripper header were fully realized in this stop-start harvest where it was fundamental to get as many acres harvested as possible between rain showers.

Combines with tracks this year were very popular due to the wet muddy conditions and some farmers could not use their grain carts without getting stuck in the field.  The majority of rice is now planted using no-till drills and planters. These machines can only operate on a smooth level field. If the field is then rutted during harvest then there is a substantial cost to re-level it prior to sowing again. The high cost of tracks of upto $60,000 per combine was justified by many people by reducing the risk of leaving unharvested crop in the field that simply could not be reached and avoiding the expense of discing and leveling rutted fields.

Mud TracksLarger rice farmers are now relying on stripper headers more that ever to harvest more acres in less time. The RSD28 has now become the most popular size although interest is increasing in the RSD32 for class 8 and 9 combines.

Losses to farming incomes due to the weather will hit most farmers this year and hopefully we can have a dry fall and dry early spring to get field work ready for next years planting season.

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